Envision Utah is the first recipient of the Utah Botanical Center Environmental Stewardship Award. Envision Utah is a public/private partnership that guides development of communities through public involvement, research and analysis.
The Utah Botanical Center in Kaysville is a project of Utah State University that focuses on conservation and wise use of plant, water and energy resources.
In presenting the award during a ceremony at the UBC, Utah State University President Stan Albrecht noted projections indicate that there will be a million more people living along the Wasatch Front by the year 2020.
“We will all share the same air, land and water,” Albrecht said. “We must act now if we are to be prepared for the challenges and benefits that accompany that rate of growth and enjoy our quality of life.”
Envision Utah brings together local residents and key decision-makers to create plans that guide development of Utah communities, while preserving critical lands, promoting water conservation and clean air, effective transportation systems and housing options for people of all incomes.
A recent article in the “Washington Post” called Envision Utah the most cited success in the world of community planning that accommodates growth while preserving critical lands and resources.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Alexander Morrison, member of the UBC advancement council, said there is a growing understanding among scientists and people outside the scientific community that the way we live now is not sustainable. He said wise conservation of natural resources is essential to the continued enjoyment of “the bounteous blessings we enjoy here in this beautiful place.”
Morrison spoke of Envision Utah’s success in avoiding “top-down, heavy handed” planning and its focus on getting local citizen involvement regarding change, respecting private property rights and building grass roots understanding of community concerns and goals. He noted that most of Envision Utah’s work has been done in approximately 90 communities along the Wasatch Front, but the group is becoming very involved in planning exercises in Utah’s rapidly growing St. George area.
Morrison added that while the award honors both the giver and the receiver, the greatest benefit from both organizations’ work is mulitigenerational and meant for all the people who call Utah their home.
In accepting the award, Envision Utah Chairman Jerry Stevenson recalled explaining to a reporter once that, Envision Utah is not a political organization, “It’s a quality of life organization,” he said “When we talk of ‘regional planning’ some of us are fearful of losing autonomy,” “What we do is teach all of us how to play well together. We must be team players because we all live together.”
“Envision Utah has worked hard with the people of Utah to ensure that our environment, economy and neighborhoods remain strong,” said Envision Utah’s Alan Matheson. ”It is a distinct honor to have those efforts recognized by a respected organization such as USU’s Utah Botanical Center.”
“The UBC is a place where people learn about conserving resources and living beautifully in our high desert climate,” said Dave Anderson, associate director of the UBC. “Presenting this award annually will allow us to honor others who are dedicated to caring for places we all share and helps ensure that careful thought is given to growth and its impact on communities and the environment.”